Author Topic: OpenTZT is an Open Source VJ tool for the Win32 platform  (Read 3842 times)

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OpenTZT is an Open Source VJ tool for the Win32 platform
« on: January 30, 2011, 01:12:57 AM »
OpenTZT is an Open Source VJ tool for the Win32 platform


OpenTZT is an Open Source VJ tool for the Win32 platform. Utilizing DirectX, the tool is optimized to allow keyboard or mouse driven video mixing of up to 6 simultaneous clips. It also includes MIDI support. OpenTZT supports quite a few file types (avi, mov, mpg, mv1, swf, jpg, bmp) and can be extended by plugins. It supports openTZT specific and FreeFrame plugins. The project is hosted at


If you haven't yet, download openTZT from SourceForge.
The installation of openTZT consists of unzipping the distribution file into its own subfolder. No install program is needed.

Important Basics

Note: this documentation is still under construction. If you don't find a particular information here, please request it in the SourceForge project forum.

In order to do any first tests or tryouts with openTZT you should read the section File Organization. Otherwise you may not be able to do anything useful with openTZT.
Consider also to switch you system color depth to 16bit (HiRes), otherwise some effects may not work.
To understand the following documentation it's good to know some basic "tzt language". The terms "material" and "clip" are mostly used interchangeably and describe either a movie clip (avi, mov, flash), a still image (bmp, jpg) or a special input function (DV-Grabbing, Through-Material, Generator Plugin). In any case it describes something you can put in a so called "player". In a player you can also apply one or two effects (short: efx) to manipulate the running clip.

File Organization

Unlike other programs openTZT doesn't have any project or session files which reference the actual video files. It requires that all files that are intended for use be placed in a somewhat fixed folder structure. Files cannot be added at run-time.
Many users become confused about this, but it is actually quite simple. Please review the following sections to understand this basic structure.

The least required folder structure is already provided with the distribution. What you need to do is copy some clips in the \Material\Bank0\F1\.
Any of the \F1\ to \F9\ directories in every \Bank*\ folder (ranges from \Bank0\ to \Bank9\) can hold up to 17 clips. Reading the content of the directories is done alphabetically, openTZT just ignores all clips beyond 17.

Read section OpenTZT Folder Structure for further details.

Starting openTZT

During the start openTZT first reads the tzt.ini file which is provided with the distribution. It contains the whole set of openTZT's options, set to it's default values. After that openTZT scans the \Material\, \Effector\ and \Record\ directories. As soon as the GUI shows up you can start going crazy. Try to hit some letter-keys or click on the thumbs shown in the material palette. Read the following text for a detailed description of openTZT features and control methods.


In the late 90' a Japanese programming god with the handle Triplet wrote TranZendenT, a wickedly cool VJ(Video-Jockey) app and distributed it (with all Japanese documentation) as freeware. Being barely known by the VJ scene, MoRph, an australien VJ, wrote a tutorial on that got people excited. Esotic, an VJ/Programmer from North Carolina (USA), wrote some wicked effects for it and it started getting real attention.

Eventually Triplet wanted to write a new app (FireFly) and agreed to release the C++ source code for TranZendenT under the GPL. MoRpH got everyone cracking. WYSIWYG wrote a python translation tool and translated the comments in the source into English and a couple of programmers from around the world, lead by Esotic, started adding new features and fixing bugs. Soon a new release, with improved MIDI and other functionality was put out on SourceForge under it's new name openTZT.

The Main Window

The main window is in fact the only window to work with in openTZT.

   1. Monitor
      Here you see the final output of openTZT.
   2. Status bar
      Well yes, in openTZT the status bar is at the top border.
      The current framerate is displayed in parentheses. In the wide [     ] block, the states of several functions are shown (explained later). The [S  ], [C  ], [A  ] blocks shows the state of the left and right shift, control and alt keys.
   3. Material Palette
      In the material palette you can see all your clips (usually, it's one frame from about the middle of the clip). The row of buttons above the materials indicate the current material page. F1 .. F9 also are the keys assigned to the material pages.
      Above that, not included in the yellow rectangle, is the bank number [Bank:0]. You can have up to ten banks (0..9). Read more about the material palette in section Video clips, Images, Live streams, Flash - OpenTZT's Materials
   4. Effect Palette
      Like materials, all effects openTZT includes and has loaded as plugins are shown in a palette. The effect palette doesn't have the page indicator (remember? the row of blue buttons above the material palette), but there are still nine pages of effects in each bank. The current page is shown above the palette: [F1], and right next to it our old friend the bank number [Bank:0], except that you can have only nine effect banks. Read more about effects in section Internal Effects.
   5. Numpad Effects
      The numpad effect palette can contain several effects that are triggered by the numpad keys. It's completely independent from the effects in the effect palette. Unlike the other two palettes, this palette has only one bank (this one bank is the one thats missing at the effect palette, see point 4). But you can still have multiple pages, the current page is shown right above the palette: [1].
   6. Switcher Palette
      You can switch from one layer that's "on air" to the other in several ways. Four of them are wipe effects and shown in the switcher palette to remember which one is which. Read more about layer switching and wiping in section Layer, Player, Clips, Effects - Dissecting the Engine.
   7. Text Window
      Type some text here and load a material plugin (from the material palette) that supports text display. Depending on that plugin you should, more or less, see your text on the monitor.
      Currently, openTZT has no builtin text functions at all.
   8. Preset Palette
      If you store a preset, you will see it's preview image in this palette. Like the other palettes you can have multiple banks and pages. Up to ten banks with nine pages each. Read more about presets in section Using Presets.
   9. Auto Preset Player
      This section contains the controls for the APP, the Auto Preset Player. As the name implies it plays presets automatically in a ordered sequence or randomly. Read more about the APP in section Automatic Preset Player (APP).
  10. Performance Section
      This the most important section of the openTZT main window. Here you control your live performance. You can see the two layers with three players each. This is the place where you load your clips and effects to.
      Since there's so much to see in this section, it's discussed in more detail in section Layer, Player, Clips, Effects - Dissecting the Engine.
  11. Preview Window
      OpenTZT allows you to show one layer "on air" while editing the other. To see the render output of this layer the preview window is updated at a low framerate to save system performance.

How to control OpenTZT

The the main method to control openTZT is by keyboard. It's also the only method that provides all (except for clip scratching and BPM dragging) functionality. So openTZT is basically a keyboard controlled program. It is recommended to use a full 101 keys keyboard since the num pad plays a major part in using the effects. Laptop users who have problems with the slightly different keyboard layout should try the keyboard_lang=ENG_LAPTOP option in the tzt.ini (read section "Configuration" for further details).

For better and easier work with openTZT, you should get a grasp of it's basic idea of using the keyboard to control a video performance. You should think of the keyboard as the keys of a piano, then your performance becomes a real performance. You "play" openTZT like a music instrument. But it's a lot easier to learn than a music instrument.

The main idea is to have groups of keys for different functions, like the letter keys basically for choosing clips and effects, the number keys for parameters and speed and the function keys to select a palette of clips, effects or presets. With the control keys (Shift, Ctrl, Alt) you tell openTZT which function you actually want to use.
Now check the table below, you can see that the most effects stuff is in colums Left CTRL and Right CTRL. There are other interesting things to find in this table.

Controlling by Keyboard

Hinweis für deutsprachige Anwender: Um openTZT mit einer QWERTZ Tastatur vernünftig bedienen zu können, sollte die Option keyboard_lang in der tzt.ini auf keyboard_lang=GER gesetzt werden.

The following table shows the combination of standard keys (ABCDE ... 1234 ... F1 F2 F3 ...) with the openTZT control keys (Ctrl, Shift, Alt). If there are more than one key listed in one of the blocks in the left column, this means the whole range of keys is used for that particular function (like 1 to 9 for nine different playback speeds)


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